4 March 2021


Advice for parents and carers to help keep children safe from bullying, wherever it happens.

What is bullying?

Bullying is behaviour that hurts someone else. It includes name calling, hitting, pushing, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone.

It can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online. It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.

Signs of bullying

No single sign will indicate for certain that your child’s being bullied, but watch out for:

  • belongings getting ‘lost’ or damaged
  • physical injuries, such as unexplained bruises
  • being afraid to go to school, being mysteriously ‘ill’ each morning, or skipping school
  • not doing as well at school
  • asking for, or stealing, money (to give to whoever’s bullying them)
  • being nervous, losing confidence, or becoming distressed and withdrawn
  • problems with eating or sleeping
  • bullying others.

Effects of bullying

The effects of bullying can last into adulthood. At its worst, bullying has driven children and young people to self-harm and even suicide.

Children who are bullied:

  • may develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety
  • have fewer friendships
  • aren’t accepted by their peers
  • are wary and suspicious of others
  • have problems adjusting to school, and don’t do as well.

All children who are affected by bullying can suffer harm – whether they are bullied, they bully others or they witness bullying.

Who’s at risk

Any child can be bullied for any reason. If a child is seen as different in some way, or seen as an easy target they can be more at risk.

This might be because of their:

  • race or ethnic background
  • gender
  • sexual orientation.

Or it could be because they:

  • appear anxious or have low self-esteem
  • lack assertiveness
  • are shy or introverted.

Popular or successful children are also bullied, sometimes because others are jealous of them. Sometimes a child’s family circumstance or home life can be a reason for someone bullying them.

Disabled children can experience bullying because they seem an easy target and less able to defend themselves.


You might experience a huge range of emotions if you discover a child’s being bullied. Whether it’s a child in your care or someone you know, we have tips to help you cope.

  1. Talk to them about bullying and cyberbullying
  2. Let them know who to ask for help
  3. Help them relax and take a time out
  4. Report bullying on social media and online gaming
  5. Report bullying videos shared online
  6. Report hate crime
  7. Talk to your child’s school or club

If your child has bullied someone

If you find out your child has done something to hurt someone else, you’re likely to feel angry, disappointed or any number of other strong emotions.

Help your child understand what bullying behaviour is

  • Explain to your child how bullying can make people feel.
  • Let them know that what they’re doing is unacceptable. Children and young people don’t always realise what they’re doing is bullying, or understand how much their actions have hurt someone.
  • Help them realise how what they’ve done will have affected the other person. You could ask them how they think the other child is feeling, and to remember how they’ve felt when someone has said or done something unkind to them.
  • Explain what you’re going to do next, such as telling their school, and what you expect your child to do now.
  • Ask them whether they have any questions about why their actions need to change.

Source: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.